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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 14, 2010

They're strong, brave and great cooks


By Paula Gillingham Bender

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Honolulu Fire Department recruits gather at Sandy Beach before jumping from a helicopter.

Courtesy of Paula Bender

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I hear Hollywood hunk George Clooney is in Hawai'i. The chances of my seeing him are pretty slim. I've got this cast on my leg for one thing. He's not in a "Lost" episode shoot, for another.

But, when you take a drive each morning along the Ka Iwi Coast, chances are something interesting is going to pop. Whales? Sure. But I'm talking something even MORE interesting: Honolulu Fire Department recruits.

On Thursday, the current class of recruits was nearing the end of its training class. When my husband and I drove by the group waiting at Sandy Beach, easy to spot in their navy blue T-shirts with bright yellow words, I got up my gumption to roll down the window and ask what they were going to do.

"We're gonna jump out of a helicopter today!"

Be still my heart. That takes some cojones for men AND women and this class had two women keeping pace with the dudes. Years ago, I tried out to be a Honolulu lifeguard. I passed the swim test, but then I got hired by Kaiser to be a computer operator. My office would not be the beach. No regrets, but it would have been cool to work with my friend Helene Phillips, and I would have more than surfing in common with my friend, the late Rell Sunn.

In Hawai'i, being a fireman is a pretty awesome job. If keiki could see the way the recruits work to get a job in the department, I don't think we'd ever have a drug or obesity problem. These young recruits are strong, healthy, wholesome and ... let's just say hanging out with firemen must be like living in a calendar.

Good luck to this 2010 class, and I hope everyone succeeded in jumping out of the copter, into the ocean and making the cut! And mahalo to Mike, one of the veterans who took our picture in front of HFD's helicopter, Fire One, or Fire Two, or whatever it was at the moment.

Eh! No false alarms. Don't ever call on the fire department just because you want to see handsome dudes. Just go to the grocery store. They usually shop in threes. And you should see the way these guys (and gals) cook! (That's another story.)